Achieving Relationship Balance Through Interdependence

There’s you, there’s me and there’s us.

A helpful way to view your relationship is like two circles; one for “You” (your partner) and one for “Me” (you). Where these circles join and overlap in the middle – that’s the “Us”. Equal parts of your individual circles are divided between the relationship and yourself. This is the Interdependent Relationship Circle. 

Where the circles overlap is a beautiful space where you share moments, ideas, love, laughter, decisions, chores, adventure, travel, love making, children, family, and everything else that matters to you as a couple.

You also have space as individuals in your own circles to enjoy time on your own, indulge in your own self-reflection and create your life as an individual, within a partnership.

By using the “You, Me , Us” you fall into that sweet spot of relationship interdependence.

An interdependent relationship is where two individuals know how to take responsibility for their own emotions and own happiness. They come together not to lean on each other, but to build each other up (hello, rising in love). While their lives are intertwined and they do depend on each other in some cases, they also honor each other’s separateness and know how to rely on themselves. And ultimately, the partnership that’s created within this kind of relationship is far greater than the sum of both parts. All that to say, two awesome people come together to create something even more awesome.

This is the epitome of the ever elusive “relationship balance”.

Here’s how you can enjoy and create an interdependent relationship:

#1: Solo Activities

Start with enjoying and being totally comfortable with doing some things alone. This means doing things solo sometimes, and other times, with friends and family.

For example, if I want to go on a spiritual retreat – I wouldn’t be asking my husband to join. That’s just not his jam. But, I would ask my best friend or sister, and if they couldn’t go, I’d be totally game for going alone.

Although my mister wouldn’t have any interest in joining me, he would support me and encourage me to go enjoy the retreat. Mutual support doesn’t have to equal mutual interests across the board.

#2: Set Boundaries

While you do want to be headed in the same direction, you each have your own needs and wants and unique likes and dislikes. This keeps things interesting and allows for a natural (and healthy) space to occur between the two of you. Be open to your partner’s interests and ideas, while intentionally carving out the time to pursue your goals and interests.

Block out time in your day/week/month where you focus on what brings YOU joy and fulfillment. Be mindful not to sacrifice this time (of course, there are exceptions), but remember that nurturing yourself and your growth contributes to the health and prosperity of your relationship.

#3: Identify and Engage in Common Interests

That being said, you also want to acknowledge your common interests. The “dependence” part of this equation is just as relevant. Identify common interests where you can naturally and joyfully come together.

Although my husband would be less interested in joining me on a spiritual retreat, he is interested in taking walks with me by the canal or sipping on a cup of joe at a new coffee shop. So we do a lot of that together.

We have many common interests and many different ones too – which keeps things fresh. Again, it’s all about balance and commitment to your alignment (more on that in chapter 10).

#4: Take Interest in Their Interest

One of the best things about being in a relationship is the opportunity to learn and grow, from both the relationship and the person you’re with. If there’s something your partner enjoys that doesn’t feel like pure torture for you – join them! Ask questions and let them share with you a little piece of their world. It’s a great bonding experience and enriching one at that.

#5: Common Purpose & Goals

Beyond interests and things you tend to do together like errands & chores, identify a common purpose or passion, and live it. Maybe it’s raising a family, or creating a business, working on a project, or contributing to world peace – find a “thing” you guys love to do together that feeds your fulfillment in this life. It’s a beautiful way to bond.

#6: Know When to Take The Back Seat

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. And although one partner’s needs don’t take precedence over the other’s, sometimes, one of you may need something more immediately. Be willing to acknowledge the times where your needs can wait because taking care of your partner now, serves the greater good.

#7: Know When to Take The Front Seat

And on that note, know when to put your needs first. That might mean saying no to a family dinner or insisting on your alone time; if taking care of yourself will make you more present and at ease in the relationship, then it’s really in the best interest of everyone.

#8: Communicate

All of this of course, takes communication. Interdependence, includes just as much sharing and communication as it does time in peace and solitude. It’s a key ingredient to making each partner feel heard and understood. Stay tuned for more on communication in Chapter 9.

I want to be very clear that an interdependent relationship is not only about the physical space you take from one another, it’s just as much about the mental space, too. Taking some time off from thinking about (or stressing about!) your relationship leaves room for clarity and “ah-ha” moments to set in. You won’t learn anything about someone or find the answers to your questions by ‘thinking”; you get what you’re looking for by being present – presently engaging with that person when you’re with them and presently engaging in the other activities and people when you’re not.